To celebrate my Psalm 90:10 birthday, we took a trip out yesterday in the winter sunshine and crisp air to Burton Bradstock, effectively the starting point of the forty miles of Chesil Beach.
By 10am the National Trust car park was already pretty full, and people and dogs (with a preponderance of chocolate labradors, for some reason) milled around noisily. A depressingly large minority of people wore unrequired and worthless masks (can it really be true that only 17% of people agree with the government’s ending self-isolation for asymptomatic positive testers at the end of the month?).
The pay-and-display car park demanded one’s car registration so that one could not anti-socially donate the unexpired portion of one’s ticket to another fellow-human.
The snack bar had a prominent sign saying they won’t accept cash (the excuse is the non-existent risk of spreading COVID by contact, the management’s reason is that handling and banking cash is troublesome for them, and the ulterior motive of the government and corporations encouraging it is to track everyone’s life by their purchases).
The loos were equally plastered with signs that I used them only at my own risk (implicitly because peeing spreads COVID, rather than that I might be propositioned by other users).
The beach, whilst by no means packed out on a Friday in February, was tolerably full of people holding back their chocolate labradors from the spaniels, whilst following the signs warning them that falling rocks might fall on them. Simultaneously they thumbed their smart phones dexterously, no doubt to sign into the test-and-trace app the trendy, and pricey, restaurant requires for the privilege of eating there.
In other words, it was just another GPS point on the uniform COVID map. But we hadn’t gone there for that, but to walk out along the cliffs to the long beach, over the headland. It wasn’t planned as a long trek – we were booked into another trendy, and pricey, gastro-pub some distance away that requires no apps, has nary a mask in view, and plays music most of which I’ve performed in bands over the years.
Yet once again I observed, and inwardly rejoiced in, a familiar phenomenon I have dubbed the 200m Law. And that states that however crowded, commercialised and (nowadays) Covidised and globalised a popular beach or beauty spot is, you can pretty much guarantee that a two hundred yard walk will get you out into the solitude of God’s creation.
That’s not to say it will necessarily be deserted, but the few people you do meet are likely to be nature-lovers rather than iPhone-addicts, and even the chocolate labs rapidly thin out to a sociable “Hail, well met” interval. The only sign, until one gets to the one reassuring you there are no life-guards and no fences, is the one by the chalet-park on the headland, always deserted, that asks you to keep your dog on a lead for the residents’ sake. Well, why not?
Get beyond that, and there is an empty shingle beach covered in uncommon maritime plants, and the shingle would gradually become ever-larger pebbles should you choose to walk the forty miles to Portland – a wonder of nature. Behind the beach is rough farmland that gradually becomes a brackish marsh (with rare marsh frogs) as it begins to form the lake of the Fleet a mile or two further on, where we could see a lone fisherman with his rod set up on the beach.
As I said, our walk this time was a mere appetizer, yet invigorated by the bracing air we saw the familiar stonechats and wheatears developing their breeding plumage, the inevitable pair of linnets identifiable only by their flitting flight, and a skylark – my wife’s favourite bird – a fluttering speck scattering his unending song to the winds as he tried to reach the sun. A song thrush sung each song twice over in splendid isolation on a gorse bush. And from the cliff, as we returned, we saw a solitary grey seal patrolling just off-shore.
Back at the car-park, the trendy, and pricey, restaurant had started to fill up and the masks had proliferated.
Now, I think the 200m Law is instructive in itself, apart from its practical value in encouraging you to dig out some walking boots and Uncle Ralph’s stick to get away from the crush. It also tells us that the vast majority of our fellows are content to stay where the signs corral them so they can be part of the crowd, without expending much effort.
There is a close equivalent to this in the matter of gaining knowledge for worthwhile life. Take, for example, the unsettling truths about the current “strange” (for which read “evil”) times. The vast majority of people, it seems, get all their information from the Beeb or the mainstream media, and are happy to be led just where it takes them, even to bigotry, servitude and an early death from untreated COVID, so long as it’s trendy and safe.
Yet it is not that the truth about these things is hidden deep in locked vaults or secret laboratories. The political and scientific shenanigans get revealed by FOI requests or internet deep-dives, and are easily found if you use a real search engine rather than Google. Nowadays even the evil geniuses publish their plans online: all you need to know about the Great Reset can be found on the WEF website, and likewise for digital identities on ID2020’s, for the harnessing of Climate Panic to engineer political change in old Club of Rome publications, and so on. Even SAGE and the CDC have their whistleblowers.
In fact, it would appear that the forces of evil simply don’t bother to hide their plans, because they know they can rely on the information version of the 200m Law: from the car park, the wild truth of nature remains comfortably out of view, though just a few minutes’ walk away.
It even reaches a point where folks become blind to wonders that remain in plain sight even from the car park, if they do not fit the narrative. Reader Gordon, in a recent comment here, points out how, if he shows friends the chart of the 30 year lack of change in the central England average temperature from the Met Office, it simply doesn’t register with them, except as a conspiracy to be ridiculed.
We once visited a nature reserve in Weymouth, and walking across the car-park saw people shooing gulls away angrily as they ate their sandwiches and crisps in the car (whilst checking their iPhones). The welcome sign in the visitor centre they had presumably just left said, “Look out for the rare Mediterranean gulls in the car park.”
In the end, I guess, what matters is having eyes to see, rather than boots to leave the car-park. “It is more blessed to be average than right.”